Mobile and web applications have become an inseparable part of most businesses around the world today. Business owners implement them to increase their remote customer engagement, enhance workflow optimization, or be a part of their service itself.
Start-ups benefit from applications more than any other type of business as they can use them for acquiring investments. However, if large enterprises have large budgets and can afford to learn from their own mistakes, for most start-ups, software development is a one-shot game. Therefore, business rookies should treat the process carefully and prepare for their first app creation campaign to reduce the risks of failing and losing their funding.
For the sake of helping start-uppers to nail their software development, we created this guide on start-up apps creation. This article will be helpful to SaaS start-ups as well as for those who plan to develop software to get to the customers and provide their services. Here you’ll find:
- Particular traits of start-up projects that influence app development process;
- Challenges they face during their app development;
- How to handle start-up software development processes;
- Major steps towards successful start-up software development.
Peculiarities of start-up software development projects
High uncertainty level
Start-ups are very unpredictable and can change their courses of action several times during their establishment, perfecting themselves. For example, you can alter your app’s features after the MVP release, when the user feedback shows that some of them don’t work as expected.
Because of such a level of unpredictability, you should make your software development process more flexible. Many start-ups and software development companies practice an agile project management paradigm that allows them to switch directions, applying ad-hoc decisions more easily.
Start-ups usually revolve around a disruptive idea that can change the old ways of doing something and enhance an industry. At the same time, implementing such an idea and creating the software product to manifest it, is a complex task. Largely because of the innovative nature of the project. Breaking a path is always more difficult than going a bitten track.
In the case of disrupting start-up software, you’ll need to find ways to transform your ideas into app features that will require unique code patterns. Thus, prepare yourself for multiple brainstorm sessions and find experienced and ingenious developers that can find ways to express those ideas in code.
Venture capital dependency
Start-ups always need a fair amount of funding to stand up and hold firm. This aspect influences the start-up software development process, adding unique steps like MVP development, IPOs, and others. Those steps allow feeding the project with more resources.
Basically, investors' participation is one of the core survival aspects for start-ups. If a start-up fails to attract the necessary investments, it ceases to function.
Start-up software development challenges and how to overcome them
Branding & Marketing
Many start-up founders overlook this aspect of their product development, especially in the early stages of development. Focusing on the product and application itself is all-important, but the project start and further brand awareness largely depend on your marketing strategy.
The earlier you get in touch with your customers and create the expectation, the better your product launch will be. Neglecting this aspect can slow down or even ruin your start-up brand development.
It can pose a great challenge to define the market segment where your product will fit perfectly. At the same time, it can determine the whole start-up's success. Therefore, dedicate the proper amount of time and resources to finding a suitable niche for your product.
For your start-up to be a success, you need to provide a high-security level for your software product. First of all, to comply with international security policies your app should protect sensitive customer data so that it remains untouched by hackers.
Making a secure application can pose a difficulty even for large enterprises let alone start-ups. Thus, you shouldn’t bypass client-side and app-side security starting from the earliest stages of your application development.
To protect your application and connected services, make sure that you provide:
- Enough password policies for app users as well as employees;
- Limited access to your start-up resources through VPN;
- Local/cloud database protection;
- Sensitive data encryption.
According to Entrepreneur research, over 75% of start-ups fail because of scaling problems. And one of the core scaling obstacles is the software product expansion problem.
At certain stages of your start-up development, your product and overall business development can undergo some minor or major changes. These changes can create difficulties for you, depending on the scale of those changes. To handle those in the best way possible, you should back up your decisions with actual information and implement them step-by-step.
Above that, you will need to watch your budget and plan your scaling expenses in advance. Having a detailed project estimation, you will know how much money to seek from your investors. Take this free project estimation template to calculate your development costs real quick. Besides, we will recommend leaving some money for unplanned expenses. We will pick the funding & budgeting in more detail later on in the article.
The team issues can influence your project much more than it seems. The most widespread ones are the following:
Finding and onboarding professionals for your start-up software development project takes hours of search and interviews. As your start-up evolves, you will need to open an HR department for that purpose. In fact, you can skip this challenge and hire a software development company that have their own developers on standby. All the employee care and responsibility for the application quality are also on the company’s side.
Another important team issue that can pop up during your start-up software development is faulty positioning and unreasonable promotions. Initial start-up teams usually include close friends and family members which can create a certain bias when it comes to team structuring. Family and friend bonds can straighten your company’s core and are wonderful per se. But when start-uppers confuse these affections with the person’s actual abilities, it can lead to a disaster. Simply put, your development team selection should be based on a person’s professional skills and leadership qualities, not personal preferences.
It happens when co-founders or stakeholders cannot find the middle ground on a certain software development aspect. As a result, they are stuck, being torn between various business development paths.
This can pose a threat to the project’s success, creating a negative working atmosphere. To avoid any development interruptions, you can create a legal treaty where the roles, fields of responsibility, and project decision-making order will be clearly outlined.
Sturt-uppers hurry up to get funds and proceed to the next stage of their project development. The rush can lead to overlooking some issues with their software. The cure is the proper preliminary preparations such as BA examination of the project, gradual development process, and the thorough QA routines on each stage to make sure your start-up application is bug-free and ready to make your users happy.
Fundraising & budgeting
One of the most acute problems start-ups face is funding and budget distribution. At the very beginning, start-up owners rely on their own savings or get support from their friends and family. This money doesn’t seem so difficult to get. However, as the project grows, it needs more and more financial injections to maintain itself and expand. As a result, start-uppers turn to various fundraising strategies.
Venture capital funds invest their money in return for equity in your start-up during the IPO process. Sometimes, they even acquire a company for a fairly large amount of money if, in their opinion, it has the potential to be the next big thing. Becoming stakeholders of your newly-christened company, they can start to participate in decision-making, assist with their business experience, and use their valuable connections to promote your product.
Venture capitalists come into play when a start-up project has already obtained a certain level of maturity. Oftentimes, this maturity is indicated at least by the functional MVP with largely positive feedback from clients and growing incomes.
Business angels are individuals that use their own financial resources to enhance a start-up in the earlier stages of project development. As well as venture capitalists, they get the company’s equity too. The main difference between angel investors and venture capitalists is that angel investors’ support is the stepping stone that leads a start-up from family money to venture capital funds. This also means that venture capital is several times larger than business angel investments. In addition, venture capitalists have a company or financial institution behind them while business angels act as individuals.
In this case, you take money from a bank to pay it back with interest. Perhaps, it’s not the best option for start-ups considering their uncertainty, because here you’ll have strict paying time frames. In other words, bank loans are the last resort to find the money for your start-up app creation.
You can use crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter to collect some money for your start-up project. Crowdfunding money can support your start-up software development at any stage. However, the more money you are planning to collect, the more effort you should put into the project promotion which includes advertisements on social media.
Also, to attract more donations, you need to create a great description for your project with a video presentation, project roadmap, and donation options with the corresponding benefits for contributors. Special offerings in return for generous donations are a must on crowdfunding platforms.
Some start-uppers, especially newbies, tend to spend beyond means when they get their first big check. Expensive cars, restaurants, luxurious offices, business-class flights are very pleasant for one’s ego but deadly for the start-up project, making its first steps in the world of big business.
Instead, invest in your start-up product production and software development as much as possible. The product development will include hiring, administrative expenses, hardware, and salaries. Besides, allocate funds for marketing to promote your product and create the fertile ground to sow the seed of your MVP on. The better the seed is sown, the richer the harvest will be.
Ways to organize start-up software development
Hiring in-house developers
Building your own development team is a great long-term solution for start-ups. You create your own team that will inherit your vision and spirit that will shine through your app in the later stages.
Nevertheless, finding great developers, designers, QA & BA specialists can take months. Long interviews, while your soul seeks to make your ideas work faster, can extinguish the flame of your inspiration and spoil your start-up vibe. Here are the major pros and cons of in-hose developers hiring:
- Better team communication and easier management because in-house employees become a part of your start-up culture;
- Building the team for a long-term collaboration;
- Faster engagement speeds up the working process;
- In-house developers charge less than outsourced teams or companies.
- In-house developers can have less motivation to accomplish the work faster;
- It takes time to build a great in-house software development team;
- You need to provide your employees with working facilities, hardware, and health insurance.
Partnering with a start-up software development company
Start-up software development companies save the day when your team cannot boast of being tech-savvy. This is the most hassle-free way to create your MVP and expand it to a fully-fledged application. Partnering with such a company will free you from all the hiring-related tasks we’ve mentioned earlier. You can focus on your business development, marketing, and promotion while your technical partner (in the form of) a software development company assumes all the responsibility regarding start-up application development.
There you can find close-knit developer teams with versatile expertise, quality assurance specialists, business analysts, project managers, and other tech pros in one place.
Also, the outsource software development companies, strive to produce high-quality software to gain and maintain their prestige. But remember that large tech companies pay more attention to their enterprise-grade projects and charge a lot for their services. Small and middle-size companies, specializing in start-up software development, are the best suite for MVP development projects. So, if you are planning to hire a start-up software development company, don’t fall for the company’s size but the number of successful start-up projects they’ve had.
While choosing your tech partners, look if they:
- Have an office in your country of residence;
- Offer start-up software development as a separate service with special pricing plans for MVP development and other offerings (e.g. free discovery phase). It means that they take such projects earnestly;
- Have start-up success stories;
- Have QA and BA specialists;
- Exercise agile software development methodologies (facilitates software development and makes the process easily manageable).
Talking about the negative aspects of working with software development companies, we should mention the high prices first. Professional services come for a corresponding price. Then, comes the human factor - the disagreements with developers or managers on the company’s side. However, this is an extremely rare case.
Finding a technical co-founder
As an option, you can find a technical co-founder that will take over this side of your project. This is a very convenient way of creating a start-up software cause you don’t need to spend money at the moment but pay this person with a fair share of your young company.
At the same time, with all the pros of such an approach, you can face some conflicts that we’ve mentioned earlier, in the challenges part. Unfortunately, disagreements between start-up founders are not unusual nowadays, especially when they have different perspectives on business and product development.
Start-up software development process
Before diving into the software building itself, you need to define the market sector your service, and product fit. To achieve that, make thorough market research. Read the related social surveys, recent statistical information, and any other source that can provide you with relevant information on the current market state.
Now you know your market - get to know the platforms on which you will build your product. The choice of web and mobile development platforms is so extensive you need to do thorough research to find the one that suits your particular needs. In case you found a technical co-founder or hired a professional start-up software development company you won’t need to do it. However, you still should explain what functions you want your app to have in a clear way. It can also become problematic for you will need to put your vision into the technical concepts, so hiring a BA specialist can fix this problem. Often, start-up software companies offer BA services along with developers and QA specialists.
Start-up app development starts form a PoC (Proof of Concept) or an MVP. Developing a minimum viable product or MVP is vital for any start-up project. This step allows you to launch your project earlier, start to receive feedback from the users with first incomes, and get the additional investment round to scale up your application.
The app creation process is classical for an MVP stage as well as following software expansion cycles. As a rule, the process includes:
Basically, it includes the market research, teck stack selection and translation of your ideas into the clearly formulated development tasks.
Creation of the UI/UX part of your software. Making a custom user interface in line with the functions it should perform.
The coding process itself. Connecting the front-end (UI/UX) with the backend (processes under the hood, 3d parties).
QA specialists take the stage and make sure that your app is bug free and ready for the release. It’s a great practice to mix your QA routines with development. Thus there’s no strict consequence between the two stages as they usually take place simultaneously.
The show time. Let the world know about your product and get ready for the rewards and feedback. Again, the better your marketing strategy and its implementation, the louder your announcement will be. And the louder the announcement, the more people will get familiar with you product.
This is a process of perfection of your software. Hearing from your customers, fixing remaining bugs, creating the necessary features are the major activities at this stage.
Once you’ve received feedback from your first clients, it’s time to act upon it and develop your product further. Be ready to have annoyed customers that will point out your application’s flaws. Instead of arguing with them, take notes and make a list of what you have to fix or add to your product in order to make it perfect.
Here starts another software development cycle. Take your feedback analysis, transform and extend your application according to it, and see your start-up growing into a unicorn.
Start-up projects are:
- Uncertain so they require more flexibility from your product development team;
- Have an ambitious idea to manifest;
- Depend on the investments.
Major start-ups’ challenges lie in:
- Market niche definition & branding identity;
- Product and intellectual property security;
- Start-up software and business scaling;
- Team-building & structuring;
- Providing a high-quality software product;
- Fundraising & budget distribution.
You can organize your software development process by:
- Hiring in-house employees and managing the process by yourself;
- Partnering with a start-up software development company;
- Finding a tech-savvy co-founder.
Start-up software development cycle:
- Market research;
- Tech stack selection;
- MVP development;
- MVP feedback analysis;
- App scaling.
P.S. If you feel like you need a professional start-up MVP development company to make your start-up MVP run like clockwork, book a free start-up consultation at Akveo. We help start-ups develop their MVP, get investments, and scale their software products to enterprise-level apps for more than 5 years. Akveo team offers inclusive start-up software development services with web/mobile app creation, BA, QA, UI/UX design, branding, and project management. With us, you can dedicate more time to your idea shaping and business development while our savvy and seasoned professionals take care of the tech side of your project.
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